Dear managers, this year, instead of making resolutions that will go no further than January 30, what if you took an interest in neurobiology in order to really impact your daily life? Reduce your stress level and facilitate your exchanges with others. Are you interested? Follow me!
Our brain, that coward
Our brain has an annoying tendency to see danger and potential insecurity everywhere. So what happens? It puts us on alert. So we grumble, we complain, we accuse the rest of the world and some situations end up in pugila. Why all this? Because our brain wanted to protect us. Thank you, that’s very nice, but do we really have to spend our time ready to show our teeth to anything that looks dangerous? In itself we can, but hello stress and mistrust.
What’s going on
Our brain, which has been designated to ensure our survival, is helped in this mission by our autonomic nervous system. Together, they affect our level of confidence and our sense of security. Imagine if nothing scared us. We would likely have already crossed a road without looking to see if cars were coming, drunk soup without waiting for it to get cold, and shaken a python to see if it was really sleeping. To prioritize our reactions, our autonomic nervous system has created 3 states that respond to degrees of danger. Without realizing it, we switch from one to the other more than 1000 times a day!
Our different states
One of these states is called the dorsal. In this state, we tend to cut ourselves off from the world. We become defeatist, fatalistic and pessimistic. Second option: the state called the sympathetic (it gets its name from the nerve that carries information from the body to the brain. It is not pleasant though!) In this state, we have a lot of energy. However, nothing constructive comes out of it. The fear, even if it is less than in dorsal, is still present. It generates an unpleasant aggressive tendency and makes us frequently blame others. Third and last state: the ventral. The grail of serenity. It is in this state that we feel confident. Ready to conquer the world. You still have a lot of energy but this time it is constructive. You know what you want, how you’re going to get it, and things work.
Choose rather than suffer
Wondering what this has to do with your day-to-day management? It’s simple: your brain and autonomic nervous system generate these different states automatically. And even though they do a remarkable job of protecting you, it is not necessarily the most appropriate state that spontaneously arises. We would indeed have everything to gain by being in ventral during networking events, in dorsal when preparing a meeting that requires concentration and in sympathetic when we have to give ourselves a little kick in the butt. Because yes, if they are chosen, these states do not have the same impact as if they are undergone. The dorsal will allow us to be in introspection and the sympathetic will use our energy as a stimulating source of encouragement.
Learning to choose
If you have a goal for this year, I invite you to decide to choose your states instead of undergoing them. This way, they will be in line with what you are doing. You will see your stress level drop significantly and your energy level rise! Your communications will be more effective and harmonious. Your time management will be more fluid and your leadership more assertive.
Putting it into practice
Obviously, this paradigm shift does not happen in a snap. It requires time, patience and overall support. It is by learning to understand and interpret your needs, your beliefs and your values that you will be able to thwart the automatic pilot that regularly plays tricks on you. The good news is that neurobiology and change management are among my specialties! If you want 2023 to be a time of choice and not of suffering, I invite you to contact me to set up a first meeting.
I look forward to meeting you.
By Ophélie Terrien, MSc, PCC
Editor of the HR Espace Conseils blog – Iceberg Management